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Tax plan continues to gather mixed reviews

BY HBSDealer Staff

Death and taxes are said to be life’s two, big certainties. Maybe it’s time to add a third certainty to the list: disagreement over taxes.

All across Washington, D.C., lobbying groups are driving hard to promote their industry’s interests on the tax reform. In recent days, the following groups issued the following statements – for, against, and mixed:

• The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association

NLBMDA strongly supports several provisions in the legislation. First, full and permanent repeal of the estate tax. Second, lowering the corporate income tax rate to a flat rate of 20 percent. Third, the immediate write-off (or "expensing") of the cost of new qualified property through 2022.

However, NLBMDA strongly opposes changes to the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. The legislation eliminates the itemized deductions for state and local income and sales taxes, but allows individuals to deduct up to $10,000 for property taxes. These changes will harm individuals living in areas with higher local and state taxes, and make it more difficult for businesses in those areas to retain and attract workers.

• The Home Depot

“The Home Depot is very supportive of tax reform that would fuel the economy by putting more money in the majority of Americans' pockets while improving the competitive position of companies so they can create more jobs. We applaud Congress for its efforts in moving tax reform forward.”

• The Window & Door Manufacturers Association

“The WDMA is expressing continued concern with the tax reform bill passed [last week] by the House of Representatives, particularly the provisions affecting home ownership. While some provisions would be positive steps towards a pro-growth economy, limiting the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and its applicability could be detrimental to businesses, middle-class families and the overall economy.”

The statement included a quote from WDMA President and CEO Michael O’Brien. "WDMA remains seriously concerned with the home ownership provisions of the House bill, namely the weakening of the mortgage interest deduction, including disallowing the deduction for home equity loans. The MID's benefits range from helping middle-class taxpayers buy a home to allowing them to deduct interest on home equity loans, which are frequently used to replace windows and doors with energy-efficient replacements. The changes in this bill could affect millions of taxpayers, as well as manufacturers across the country.  We remain opposed to attempts to weaken the MID and WDMA urges the Senate to protect this important cornerstone of American housing policy, including for home equity loans."

• The National Retail Federation

The NRF welcomed [the] approval of tax reform legislation by the Senate Finance Committee and urged approval of the bill by the full Senate.

“With this pro-growth measure now approved by committee, we urge senators to spend the Thanksgiving break building consensus on how to pass tax reform and to set aside any differences that might keep this vitally important goal from becoming reality,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Tax reform is the key to increased prosperity that small businesses, large employers and middle-class workers have all been waiting for for more than a generation. This is about jobs, wages and America’s future.

"NRF has led the retail industry’s fight for tax reform for years, calling on Congress to eliminate tax breaks that benefit only some industries and to use the revenue saved to lower rates for all companies, including small businesses. A recent NRF analysis found that reducing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent could result in the creation of between 500,000 and 1.5 million new jobs throughout the economy."

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Sears raises the stakes for free delivery

BY HBSDealer Staff

In an effort to ramp up holiday sales, Sears and Kmart are offering free home delivery for online purchases of $399 or greater.

The offer is effective Nov. 27 through Dec. 25 and is being run in conjunction with additional promotions from the retailer, including a 40% discount on appliances. Sears and Kmart are also offering free shipping on online orders of $25 or more.

"Members have the flexibility to shop online for millions of products and then choose free shipping or free home delivery, including numerous installation options,” Leena Munjal, senior vice president, customer experience and integrated retail at Sears Holdings, said in a prepared statement.

On Nov. 8, Sears Holdings reported that it had reached an agreement that will allow the retailer to sell an additional 140 locations after announcing it would be closing 63 more locations. 

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Leviton turns up the volume on speakers

BY HBSDealer Staff

Melville, N.Y.-based Leviton announced new additions to the Architectural Edition Powered by JBL speaker product line.

In November 2016, Leviton introduced five new home theater speakers including a Bluetooth Soundbar with wireless sub-woofer. Now, through a long-standing partnership with JBL, Leviton added five new in-ceiling and in-wall speakers to enhance the Leviton Architectural Edition product line. 

The products “bring studio quality sound from the professionals to your home or business,” said James Shurte, product manager for Leviton Energy Management, Controls & Automation.

These new recessed in-wall and in-ceiling speakers were engineered with the professional installer in mind given the product line’s whole-room seamless audio and visual design, the company said. Additionally, the new speakers include superior installation brackets that utilize a specialty mechanical grip to minimize vibration regardless of installation format. Optional rough-in kits and fire-rated back boxes are available for pre-construction installation in new homes and businesses creating a result that blends into any environment’s wall or ceiling architecture. Leviton

The new speakers also feature paintable and nearly invisible zero-bezel magnetic grilles that blend into the wall or ceiling architecture in a residence or commercial setting. 

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